Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Uncovering the Real James Bond – and the Real Roland Empey


The January 1966 issue of Male magazine features a very cool, Sixties-flavored cover painting by Mort Kunstler that looks like a James Bond scene.

Quite a few of Ian Fleming’s stories about James Bond did appear in men’s bachelor and adventure magazines in the 1960s.

But this classic Kunstler cover is not for a 007 story by Fleming.

It’s for a story by Roland Empey titled “DETECTIVE WILLIAM CLIVE — IS HE THE REAL JAMES BOND?”

Empey reveals that Clive is a former British adventurer, spy and Scotland Yard detective who had retired to the island of Trinidad.

And, according to Empey: “In the view of many who would conceivably know, it was the young Scotland Yard detective who inspired Fleming to create James Bond.”

Indeed, the anecdotes told by and about Clive in this story do seem similar to some famous scenes in the James Bond books and movies.

For example, check out the machine-gun equipped sports car in Mort Kunstler’s cover painting.

It’s definitely something that could have been created by Q, the designer of deadly car accessories and gadgets in the Bond stories.

Empey quotes Detective Clive’s description of the car chase depicted by Kunstler and suggests that it may have inspired a similar car chase scene in the Bond movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

“I was once chased along the Via Mercurio by three killers hired by Aunt Tina Lola,” Clive recalls. “Auntie was involved in a scheme to steal ten million dollars worth of paintings out of the Vatican and since I’d learned how she intended to do it, she had her people shooting for permanence. I was out for a spin with two girls — starlets from the film colony in Rome — when this black limousine got on my tail. I pushed my vehicle up to 127 but I still couldn't shake them. Fortunately, they didn't know about the brace of 30 caliber machine guns I’d rigged up in my car trunk for just such emergencies. Things worked by remote control. All I had to do was push a button on the dashboard, the trunk door flipped up and I let go with a twenty second burst that blew the limousine's front wheels and killed the driver. Car went right off the road, skidded about 200 feet on its roof and burst into flames. The poor devils inside were all incinerated, I suppose. Didn’t take time to look. The ladies and I were late for a luncheon engagement...”

The interior painting for Empey’s story, by artist Gil Cohen, depicts another anecdote Clive tells, about the time he was strapped to a pool table and worked over by a bald Filipino karate expert.

Of course, this sounds similar to elements of the Bond movie Goldfinger, in which Bond is strapped to a table, with a deadly laser aimed at his crotch, and does battle with the bald Korean karate expert named Odd Job.

Was Detective William Clive really the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s character James Bond?

Well, I’ve talked to the author of this story and I believe I know the answer.

[UPDATE: You’ll soon be able to read it and decide for yourself. It’s one of the classic men’s adventure magazine stories included in the forthcoming anthology HE-MEN, BAG MEN & NYMPHOS, the follow-up to the WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH! anthology.]

Roland Empey is actually a pseudonym used by the legendary men’s adventure magazine writer Walter Kaylin.

Walter wrote hundreds of men’s pulp mag stories, under his own name and as “Roland Empey.” He also sometimes wrote under the pen name David Mars.

As noted in a previous post featuring Walter’s story about the ill-fated USS Indianapolis, I made contact with him via Josh Alan Friedman. Josh’s father, the renowned novelist and playwright Bruce Jay Friedman once edited men’s adventure magazines for Martin Goodman’s Magazine Management company.

Friedman, Kaylin and Mario “The Godfather” Puzo all worked for Mag Management during the company's heydays in the 1960s, and both Friedman and Puzo later named Kaylin as one of the greatest of all men’s adventure writers. 

In a recent phone interview, Walter told me how he became one of the frequent contributors to Male, Stag, Men, For Men Only and other top men’s adventure magazines…

Were you a writer before you started writing for Magazine Management?

KAYLIN: Yes, I was in the Army during World War Two and got out in the late Forties. I enjoyed writing and managed to get a job as staff writer at Women’s Day magazine, where I mostly wrote articles about food. I also started writing other types of articles on the side. One day the food department editor saw me at my desk writing something that hadn’t the slightest thing to do with Women’s Day. And, very shortly thereafter I got fired.

Did you like writing for a woman’s magazine?

KAYLIN: It was interesting, but I didn’t enjoy it much. About that time, I decided to move from New York to Los Angeles, with the idea was that I would just keep writing and become a freelance writer. I sold some stories to magazines like The Standard [a Canadian magazine]. But most of them only paid 75 or 100 dollars for a story, so I was doing very badly. Then I wrote a story that was published in the Saturday Evening Post, called “The Lady on the Island,” and it was picked as one of the best stories of the year in the Post. That was a very, very big thing to happen. And, I was paid 850 dollars, which was a great deal of money for me at the time. On the basis of that story, I decided to go back home to New York to be a writer there.

Is that when you first hooked up with Magazine Management, in the late 1950s?

KAYLIN: Yes. I actually worked at Magazine Management for quite a while. Bruce Jay Friedman was there ahead of me, and was an editor there, though I don’t think he was a senior editor yet, as he became later. I went there looking for a job where I’d only have to work for a few hours a day, so I could keep writing. I was interviewed by a secretary to Martin Goodman. He said something like, “You know if you want to work here, there’s a full time job for you, but we’re not taking on anybody who would just work part time.” I needed the job, so I took it and that’s how I went into Magazine Management.

When did you start writing stories for the men’s adventure magazines?

KAYLIN: After I had been at Magazine Management for a short time, Bruce and I made a nice connection and one day I suggested a story to him. He said I should go ahead and do it. And, he liked it very much. And, from then on, I wrote more and more stories and pretty soon I just quit the job and put all my time into writing the stories. I was replaced by Mario Puzo. He came in right after me.

In a previous interview I did with Josh Alan Friedman, Josh told me his father hired Mario Puzo as a staff writer and Associate Editor around 1959, before he became famous as author of The Godfather. Did you get to know Mario well?

KAYLIN: Yes, I did. Mario Puzo was one of the world’s nicest guys. He was a lovely, lovely fellow. Everybody loved him. Bruce used to have fun kidding about the way Mario used to invent entire wars in stories he wrote for the Magazine Management magazines. You know, we invented a lot of stuff. And, I really think the idea was to just have a lot of fun at what you were doing.

Do you remember writing the “Real James Bond” story or the story about the USS Indianapolis that I recently featured on this blog?

KAYLIN: No, I don’t as a matter of fact. You know I must have written about a thousand of those stories. And a lot of them I don’t remember at all. (He laughs.) You know I’m an old guy and I’ve forgotten stuff that happened yesterday. The fact that I don’t remember something from 40 or 50 years ago is not surprising.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks again to Walter Kaylin for talking with me and allowing us to reprint his stories. Also, thanks to Walter’s daughter Lucy for his phone number and his daughter Jennifer for the photo.

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Comments? Questions? Corrections? Post them on the Men’s Adventure Magazines Facebook Group.


As vintage illustration fans may know, Gil Cohen provided artwork to many men’s adventure magazines and later became renowned for his military aviation paintings.

They are featured in this highly recommended book:

Gil Cohen: Aviation Artist

Monday, April 19, 2010

The legendary Walter Kaylin, “Jaws” and the USS Indianapolis


Earlier this month, I posted an entry on this blog about Walter Kaylin, the legendary men’s adventure story writer who was also editor of the short-lived, pocket-size men’s pulp magazine Brave.

I am a big fan of Kaylin’s work.

Dozens of his stories appear in vintage men’s adventure magazines, some under his real name and some under the pen name Roland Empey.

Most of Kaylin’s men’s adventure stories are in magazines published by Magazine Management.

Mag Management, founded by Martin Goodman, published some of the best vintage men’s adventure magazines, including Action for Men, For Men Only, Ken for Men, Stag, Male, and Men.

Walter Kaylin was a favorite writer of former Magazine Management editors Noah Sarlat, Bruce Jay Friedman and Godfather author Mario Puzo, who worked as Associate Editor for Friedman in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

When I wrote my recent post about Kaylin, I discovered there is very little information about him on the Internet. I couldn’t even find out if he was still alive. He was “the legendary, though untraceable Walter Kaylin.”

Then, last week, I got a surprise note from fellow Kaylin fan Josh Alan Friedman, Bruce Jay’s son.

Josh is a writer and musician whose latest book is Black Cracker (a truly amazing “autobiographical novel” that I highly recommend). He’d made contact with Walter’s daughter, Lucy Kaylin, and found out Walter is alive and well and living in Old Lyme, Connecticut.

Lucy, who is an author herself and Deputy Editor of O, the Oprah Magazine, was kind enough to put me in touch with her father. And, he graciously took the time to do an interview with me.

Walter was born in the Bronx in 1921 and is now 89 years old. But he’s still very sharp and great fun to talk with. He seemed surprised when I told him that the stories he wrote for men’s adventure magazines in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s are considered some of the best ever written for the genre and that magazines with his stories are sought out by collectors like me.

“It surprises me because it’s so long ago,” he said. “I used to write them pretty fast. Not as fast as someone like Mario [Puzo]. Mario was a speed demon. But I would write at a good pace and I was having a good time. I was very fond back then and continue to be fond of adventure stories.”

I’m still working on transcribing my interview with Walter. When I finish, I’ll post it here. In tonight’s post, I’ll provide an example of why other writers and editors — and fans like me — consider Walter Kaylin to be one of the best of the men’s pulp magazine writers.

The example I picked is his story about the ill-fated USS Indianapolis, titled “108-HOUR MID-OCEAN ORDEAL...500 DEAD...300 STILL AFLOAT.” It’s the cover story of the May 1963 issue of Stag magazine, which features an awesome cover painting created for the story by the renowned pulp art and historical painter Mort Kunstler.

If you’ve seen the 1975 movie Jaws, you’ve heard a small part of the story of the USS Indianapolis. It was an American Navy cruiser sunk by a Japanese sub’s torpedoes in 1945, after delivering parts for the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

There’s a well-known scene in Jaws in which Quint the shark-hunter, played by Robert Shaw, tells what happened after the Indianapolis was sunk — revealing that his obsessive hatred of sharks stems from being one of the ship’s surviving crew members.

It’s a grimly absorbing tale that Shaw ends by famously saying:

“Eleven hundred men went into the water, 316 men come out, the sharks took the rest...Anyway, we delivered the bomb.”

Although the sharks are part of Walter Kaylin’s story about the Indianapolis, they are not his focus.

He starts the story with a fascinating scene on the Japanese submarine that sank the Indianapolis. Then he shifts his viewpoint to follow the Indianapolis crew through their gruesome three-and-a-half day ordeal in oil-covered, shark infested waters. He also explains why, after the few hundred surviving crew members were rescued, this incident led to the first court martial in history of a US Navy Commanding Officer for losing his ship in action.

Kaylin’s Indianapolis story is historically based, unlike some of his men’s adventure magazine stories. But it’s written in a fast-paced, novelistic style.

Now, you can download and read the entire story by clicking this link. It’s another exclusive MensPulpMags.com reprint, made available with Walter Kaylin’s permission.

By the way, you should also check out some of the other exclusive reprints posted as downloads on this blog.

They include the “lost” men’s adventure magazine stories of Harlan Ellison and some of my favorite stories by author Robert F. Dorr, who is now a top military historian — as well as men’s pulp mag classics like “Chewed to Bits by Giant Turtles,” “Fidel Castro’s Sex Secret” and “The First Time I Died.”

And, to learn more about the legendary Walter Kaylin, be sure come back soon to read my interview with him. I plan to post it in the near future.

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Comments? Questions? Corrections? Post them on the Men’s Adventure Magazines Facebook Group.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Men’s Pulp Mag Piranhas vs. SyFy’s “Mega Piranhas”


Recently, the SyFy channel aired a made-for-TV movie titled Mega Piranha, which featured giant CGI killer fish.

It was just cheesy enough to be enjoyable, if you enjoy cheesy Grade-B horror movies (which I do).

Of course, Mega Piranha was, er, spawned by the classic 1978 movie Piranha and it’s sequels — which are descendants of movies and TV shows from the 1950s and 1960s that used scenes of water boiling with piranhas as plot devices.

Those, in turn, were inspired by tales of voracious piranhas in books and magazines.

Teddy Roosevelt is generally credited with starting the mythology of flesh-stripping schools of piranha in his 1914 travelogue Through the Brazilian Wilderness.

He dubbed them “most ferocious fish in the world” and described a feeding frenzy that quickly turned a cow into bits of bloody bone (an event now believed to have been artfully staged by Teddy’s native guides).

In the Fifties and Sixties, men’s adventure magazines helped continue the legend of bloodthirsty piranhas in stories like the one I mentioned in a recent post about Brave magazine, “We Saw Them Eat Him Alive”.

The men’s pulp mags also featured some very cool piranha attack covers.

One of my favorites is the cover of the December 1953 issue of Male magazine.

It was painted by the great illustrator Robert Emil Schulz (1928-1978), who was usually credited as Bob Schulz or Robert E. Schulz.

The original painting for that cover, shown at right, is owned by men’s pulp art collector and expert Rich Oberg.

Rich told me he considers Schulz “one of the best” — putting him in the same league with pulp art legends like Mort Kunstler, Norman Saunders and Norm Eastman.

In addition to doing cover and interior art for men’s adventure magazines, Schulz painted covers for many vintage paperback books.

Below are two nice examples: The Corpse Came Calling (1942), a Mike Shayne paperback by Brett Halliday and the Signet edition of Georges Simenon's The Fugitive (1958).

You can see more Bob Schulz paperback covers and read a longer bio about him on the Killer Covers blog, a site I highly recommend to fans of old paperbacks and pulp art.

There’s another excellent piranha attack cover painting on the December 1955 issue of Male. That one is by George Gross.

Like Schulz, Gross was a top notch artist who provided many cover paintings and interior illustrations for men’s pulp magazines, as well as for paperback and digest covers. Some wonderfully pulpy examples of the latter are showcased on the Vintage Paperbacks & Digests website, another site I highly recommend.

There’s also a piranha cover painting on the July 1957 issue of Man’s World, by an artist named Jim Bentley.

Bentley didn’t do many covers for men’s pulp magazines. But you may have seen him featured in one of the magazine ads run in the 1960s by Art Instruction Schools. It claimed that Bentley made a “handsome living” as a magazine and advertising illustrator, after taking AIS art classes and leaving his “dead-end job” as a repairman behind.

The venerable men’s magazine Stag used a piranha attack scene on its November 1954 cover. It was done by an uncredited artist and is kind of a fishy version of Stag’s “Mad Monkeys” cover.

The most outré piranha cover painting of all is by the master of over-the-top cover art, Norm Eastman. He managed to fit piranhas into the Nazi bondage and torture subgenre.

Eastman’s cover painting for the February 1963 issue of Men Today shows evil Nazis dunking a horrified, scantily-clad damsel into tank full of hungry piranhas. This creative scene goes with the story “SOFT MAIDENS FOR THE MONSTER’S DEVIL FISH.”

As explained in a previous post, Eastman brainstormed these weird torture methods with B. R. “Bud” Ampolsk, co-owner of Reese publishing, the company that published Men Today.

According to Eastman, Ampolsk told him “we had never done anything that the Nazis hadn’t actually done.”

Somehow, however, I doubt if you’ll find anything about the Nazi piranha torture technique in the history books.

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Comments? Questions? Corrections? Post them on the Men’s Adventure Magazine Facebook Group.


Recommended reading for pulp art fans…

Pulp Culture: The Art of Fiction Magazines


By Frank M. Robinson, author of Incredible Pulps: A Gallery of Fiction Magazine Art

Friday, April 9, 2010

Bloodthirsty baboons, a transgendered damsel in distress, vicious anteaters — and a killer Komodo dragon...


A while ago, in a post featuring monkey and baboon attack covers, I included the cover of the May 1955 issue of Men magazine.

The cover painting on that issue was done by the great Mort Kunstler, who is now best known for his epic Civil War paintings.

Kunstler is one of the most talented and renowned artists who once provided cover art and interior illustrations for men’s pulp magazines in the Fifties and Sixties.

The painting he did for the May ‘55 issue of Men shows a manly white hero desperately trying to fight off a horde of vicious-looking Mandrill baboons, using his apparently empty rifle as a club.

The odds don’t look good for our hero. And, his African sidekick is already down.

If you look at the lower right hand corner of the Men magazine cover, you’ll see the bloodied native guy on the ground, overcome by enraged Mandrills.

I recently found out from Rich Oberg, the men’s adventure art collector and expert, that Kunstler modified this baboon attack painting years later for use on the cover of the April 1971 issue of Male magazine.

Rich sent me a photo of the modified painting, which he owns. It’s shown at right.

At first glance, I didn’t catch the difference.

Then my eyes focused on the bottom right hand corner and I saw it.

As Rich confirmed to me, Kunstler had painted over the African native seen on the cover of Men — and transformed him into a blonde damsel in distress for the Male cover!

I’ve noticed cover paintings used on more than one men’s adventure magazine. But I think this is the only example of transgender surgery by a men’s pulp mag artist.

Rich and I both have a fondness for the gonzo animal attack covers used on many vintage men’s pulp magazines. In fact, the legendary “Weasels Ripped My Flesh” cover by Will Hulsey, on the September 1956 issue of Man’s Life, inspired me to start this blog.

Most of the scenes shown in these man (and/or woman) vs. beast cover paintings are fantastic — in both senses of the word.

They show things that would never happen in the real world, making them pure feats of imagination. And, they are often fantastically well-executed pieces of vintage illustration art.

Among my favorites is Mort Kunstler’s painting of “vicious” pangolin anteaters, used on the cover of the Winter 1956-57 issue of Sport Trails magazine.

The idea of attacking pangolins (a.k.a. scaly anteaters or tenggilings) is as far out as attacking weasels. It’s the kind of thing that exists only in the alternate worlds of the men’s adventure magazines, horror movies and science fiction and fantasy. (All of which I am a fan of.)

If you watch the SyFy Channel, you know that one of the favorite killer animals used in the Grade-B (sometimes Grade-Z) horror movies it shows is the Komodo dragon. But decades before there were Komodo flicks on Syfy, killer Komodo dragons were featured on and in men’s pulp mags.

Below is another great Mort Kunstler cover painting, showing another manly hero fighting a huge Komodo dragon with a sword. It was used on the June, 1955 issue of Male magazine.

Of course, Komodo dragons can actually be dangerous, unlike weasels and anteaters. However, I doubt if they rear up on their hind legs like the one in Kunstler’s painting. And, I doubt if anything like the scene depicted in it has ever happened.

It’s a creation of the imagination, beautifully executed by a great pulp artist.

Mort Kunstler’s Komodo, pangolin and Mandrill attack paintings are just a few of the mind-blowing original cover paintings owned by Rich Oberg. There are other examples in the excellent book that features art and magazine covers from his collection, Taschen’s Men’s Adventure Magazines in Postwar America. But even that only shows a small part of Rich’s pulp treasures.

Rich recently created a website — MensAdventure.com — where he has started posting photos of the cover paintings he has collected and the covers they were used for.

Luckily for me, he is also becoming a regular contributor to this blog, and is graciously allowing me to show original cover paintings from his collection, including some that have never before appeared in books or on the Internet.

Stay tuned for more in my next post.

Comments? Questions? Post them on the Men’s Adventure Magazine Facebook Group.


Check out the more artwork by Mort Kunstler in this great book:

The Civil War Art of Mort Kunstler

It’s one of a series of lushly illustrated books featuring his historic paintings.

Monday, April 5, 2010

“Tattoos are for Sissies” – according to a 1958 men’s pulp magazine


This past weekend, I got an email from Nick Colella, a tattoo artist at Chicago Tattoo, Illinois’ oldest tattooing studio.

Nick was looking for an issue of Escape to Adventure that had an article about the legendary tattooist, Gibb “Tatts” Thomas.

I haven’t seen that one. However, I did recently read another article about tattoos in a men’s pulp mag — the November 1958 issue of Outdoor Adventure (Vol. 4, No. 3).

The article is provocatively titled “Tattoos are for Sissies.”

Outdoor Adventure was published by Click Publishing. (The similarly named Outdoor Adventures, another men’s adventure magazine, was put out by Weider Publications.)

It was sort of a hybrid between a typical men’s pulp magazine and Outdoor Life, combining hunting and fishing adventure yarns (as opposed to how-to articles) with war stories, cheesecake photos, exotic adventure tales and exposé-style articles like “Tattoos are for Sissies.”

Based on that article’s silly title, I thought it might be a humor piece before I read it.

In fact, it’s a seemingly serious article written by “Dr. Alex P. Leland.” The author may or may have been someone named Alex P. Leland or a doctor. In vintage men’s pulp mags, the names of the authors of racy articles and their supposed professional titles were sometimes fictitious.

“Dr. Leland” explains that tattoos were commonly viewed as “the insignia of virility and masculinity” in the 1950s. Then he drops the first bombshell:

“Yet, in actual fact, this notion is dead wrong.

Instead of being a sign of virility, tattooing is often just the opposite. Many men who have themselves tattooed do so to cover up hidden, subconscious doubts, about their own manliness. Furthermore, instead of being the exclusive property of would-be he-men. tattoos are just as popular among overt homosexuals!”

It gets worse (or better, depending on how much you like campy, politically incorrect stuff).

Leland goes on to quote “noted psychiatrist, Dr. Charles K. Erlick of New York,” who says:

“The blatantly effeminate type of homosexual attempts to talk, walk and dress in a characteristic way, in order to display himself. On the other hand, those sexual deviates who try to maintain an outer front of masculinity use suggestive tattoos as a subtle, effective means of advertising their homosexuality.”

Want some examples? Of course. Here ya go...

“As an example, Dr. Erlick tells of one brawny, bemuscled Merchant Marine seaman who had a ship’s propeller tattooed on each of his buttocks. The slang meaning of the twin screws thus pictured was not lost on those of his shipmates who had similar homosexual preferences.

Another seafaring deviate had a tattooed row of red foxes chasing one another down his spine and disappearing into an obvious place. Even less subtle was the Detroit auto worker whose back sported a vertical blue arrow, pointing downward to a sign which read: ‘For Men Only.’”

The article continues to provide examples of other “deviants” who like tattoos, including masochists, female prostitutes, insecure men suffering from “Don Juanism” and guys who get off on having their “organ” tattooed by female tattoo artists.

Oh yeah, about those girl tattooists…

“Female tattoo artists are rare in this country, but quite common in Europe, South America and Asia. Many of them combine tattooing with prostitution. They report that a large percentage of their clients are masochists, who demand no more than the tattooing itself as a source of erotic satisfaction.”

This is pretty wild stuff and I don’t know enough about the history of tattooing to know how much is true. But the article get’s even wilder than that.

You can find out how wild by reading it yourself. Just click this link to download the entire article, plus the great cover, in PDF format.

By the way, the cover painting used for the November 1958 issue of Outdoor Adventure, showing a G.I. fighting off an attacking crocodile with a knife, was painted by the artist John Floherty, Jr. (1907-1977).

Floherty was an illustrator, commercial artist, cartoonist and painter who had studios in New York City and Northport, Long Island.

In the 1930s and 1940s, he provided many illustrations for mainstream magazines, such as Colliers and Liberty.

One of his works, titled “Where Away,” was used for U.S. Coast Guard recruiting posters.

Floherty’s art was also used for a number of paperback book covers and hardback dust jackets, including the dust jacket for a 1944 book about the U.S.S. Marblehead that’s also titled Where Away. (I’ll bet some of the guys in that dust jacket illustration had tattoos.)

Floherty’s cover for Outdoor Adventure is the only example of his art I currently have in my men’s pulp magazine collection. Men’s adventure art expert and collector Rich Oberg told me Floherty did relatively little work for the men’s adventure genre.

By the way, if you think Floherty’s croc attack cover painting is cool, wait until you see the incredible original animal attack cover art that Rich sent me photos of recently. I’ll be featuring them in my next post.

Comments? Questions? Post them on the Men’s Adventure Magazine Facebook Group.


Exclusive reprints of Harlan Ellison’s lost men’s pulp magazine stories, complete with original artwork, downloadable for 99 cents each:

Harlan Ellison’s “Death Climb,” a noir-style pulp fiction tale originally published in the February 1957 issue True Men Stories.

Harlan Ellison’s “The Island of Tyooah,” an exotic South Seas fantasy yarn originally published in the second issue of Exotic Adventures magazine, Vol. 1, No. 2 (1958).

Thursday, April 1, 2010

BRAVE: the pocket-sized men’s pulp magazine full of “Rugged Adventure”

 

In Volume 2 of her excellent 6-Volume History of Men's Magazines, Dian Hanson notes:

“A curiosity of the 1950s was a number of American men’s lifestyle digests that...combined all the elements of the era’s men’s magazines, including sports, pin-ups, scandal, men’s adventure, detective stories, human oddities and slapstick photo stories in a pocket-sized package costing less than a quarter.”

These little men’s magazines are smaller than the digest-size pre-World War II pulps.

They measure about 4 1/4" by 5 3/4" in size and can literally fit in your pocket.

Most of them — such as Brief, He, Picture Digest, Sensation, Slick and Tempo — are risqué girlie magazines.

But, in 1957, at least one pocket-size men’s adventure magazine was published: Brave, the “Magazine of RUGGED ADVENTURE.”

Brave was published by Humor Digest, Inc., which also published girlie cheesecake and humor periodicals.

The editor of Brave was a prolific writer named Walter Kaylin. To the extent he is still known today, it’s primarily as the creator of hundreds of stories for vintage men’s magazines. [UPDATE: A while after I originally posted this entry, I tracked Walter down and talked with him by phone. Excerpts from that conversation are in some of my subsequent posts about stories written by Kaylin under his own name or his favorite pen name, Roland Empey.] 

The famous author and playwright Bruce Jay Friedman, who once edited men’s adventure mags for Martin Goodman’s Magazine Management company, has called Kaylin one of his favorite writers.

Bruce’s son, Josh Alan Friedman (author of the recently-released book Black Cracker) once talked to Mario Puzo about Kaylin in an interview that’s now posted on Josh’s blog.

Puzo worked with Josh’s father as a staff writer and Associate Editor at Magazine Management before he became famous as the author of The Godfather. Mario told Josh:

“He [Kaylin] was great! He wrote these great adventures, but he couldn’t turn them out that fast. He was outrageous, he just carried it off. He’d have this one guy killing a thousand other guys. Then they beat him into the ground, you think he’s dead, but he rises up again and kills another thousand guys.”

Mel Shestack, another a former Magazine Management editor interviewed by Josh, once told the famous writer Hannah Arendt: “You’re okay Arendt, but you’re no Walter Kaylin.”

Given the high regard editors had for Kaylin, it’s somewhat surprising that you don’t find much about him on the Internet. There are the comments I just mentioned, scattered listings of articles Kaylin wrote for men’s bachelor and adventure magazines and the few novels he wrote, a note on the Mystery File blog saying that he once lived in Old Lyme, Connecticut. That’s about it.

Josh Alan Friedman has called him “the legendary, though untraceable Walter Kaylin.”

With this post, I am adding to the body of Kaylin lore the fact that he edited the short-lived, pocket-sized men’s adventure magazine Brave.

From what I can tell, only three issues of Brave were published, all in 1957. And, based on the one copy of Brave I have, which is the November 1957 issue, Kaylin had a firm grasp of how to put together a classic men’s pulp mag.

The cover features a rousing painting by the great pulp artist Clarence Doore, showing two bloodied men in a manly knife fight. It goes with the story inside titled “I DIDN’T WANT TO KILL HIM.”

There’s also a rip-snorting yarn about a bloodthirsty wolf, “Crazy Wild to Kill Me,” and an Amazonian adventure with flesh-stripping piranhas, delicately titled “We Saw Them Eat Him Alive.”

The November ‘57 issue of Brave also has some interesting non-fiction articles, including a gripping article about Algerian rebels written by journalist Peter Throckmorton.

This article is actually a bit of 1950s world history.

In the winter of 1956-57, Throckmorton and fellow journalist Herb Greer were the first Western journalists to provide first hand reports on the Algerian Armée de Libération Nationale (ALN), the rebel troops fighting to win Algeria’s independence from France during the Algerian War.

Throckmorton and Greer generated worldwide news by photographing and filming ALN training camps and by embedding themselves with ALN guerillas during their raids on French troops. Throckmorton’s article in Brave magazine documents — in words and graphic photos — an ambush in which two French soldiers were killed.

Stories like this by Throckmorton and Greer infuriated the French government, because they showed the Algerian rebels were well-organized and portrayed them in a fairly sympathetic light, rather than as “terrorists.” A few years later, in 1962, the French gave up the fight and Algeria gained its independence.

Of course, like other men’s adventure magazines, Brave careened from real and fictional blood and gore to scantily clad babes. In this case, the cheesecake part of the old sex-and-violence formula was pretty corny.

For example, shots of the model in the “Squaw from Brave’s Wigwam” photo spread are accompanied by a cartoon Indian who makes silly comments about her in Tonto-style pidgin English.

But aside from this cheesy cheesecake, Brave is actually a better than average men’s adventure magazine that packs a lot in a pocket-size package.

If you’re lucky enough to spy a rare copy of Brave on eBay, you should try to snag it. Of course, you’ll probably have to outbid me.

Comments? Questions? Post them on the Men’s Adventure Magazine Facebook Group.


Highly recommended for pulp paperback fans…

Dames, Dolls and Delinquents by Gary Lovisi


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